David Again Spares Saul
1 The Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding on the hill of Hachilah, east of Jeshimon?” 2 So Saul arose and went down to the Wilderness of Ziph, taking with him three thousand chosen men of Israel, to search for David [there] in the wilderness of Ziph. 3 Saul camped on the hill of Hachilah, which is beside the road east of Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul came into the wilderness after him, 4 David sent out spies, and he learned that Saul was definitely coming. 5 So David arose and went to the place where Saul had camped, and saw the spot where Saul lay, as well as Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army; and Saul was lying inside the circle of the camp, with the army camped around him.
6 Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother of Joab, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” 7 So David and Abishai went to the army during the night, and there was Saul lying asleep inside the circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground by his head; and Abner and the people were lying around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day; now then, please let me strike him with the spear driving it to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not kill him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed [king] and be guiltless (innocent)?” 10 David also said, “As the Lord lives, most certainly the Lord will strike him [in His own time and way], or his day will come and he will die, or he will go down into battle and be carried off [dead]. 11 The Lord forbid that I would put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now take the spear that is by his head and the jug of water, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jug of water from beside Saul’s head, and they left, and no one saw or knew nor did anyone awaken, because they were all sound asleep, for a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen on them.
13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on the top of the mountain at a distance, with a large area between them. 14 David called to the army and to Abner the son of Ner, “Will you not answer, Abner?” Abner replied, “Who are you who calls [and disturbs] the king?” 15 David said to Abner, “Are you not a [brave] man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not guarded your lord the king? For one of the people came [into your camp] to kill the king your lord. 16 This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you surely (a)deserve to die, because you have not guarded your lord, the Lord’s anointed. And now, see where the king’s spear is, and the jug of water that was by his head.”
17 Then Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And David said, “It is my voice, my lord the king!” 18 And David said, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? For what have I done? Or what evil is in my hand? 19 Now therefore, please let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the Lord has incited you against me, let Him accept an offering [from me]; but if it is men, may they be cursed before the Lord, because they have driven me out this day to keep me from sharing in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now then, do not let my blood fall to the ground away from the presence of the Lord; for the king of Israel has come out to search for a single flea, just as when one hunts a [defenseless] partridge in the mountains.”
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will not harm you again because my life was precious in your sight this day. Hear me, I have played the fool and have done a very great wrong [to you].” 22 David answered, “Look, here is the king’s spear! Now let one of the young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord will repay each man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord handed you over to me today, but I refused to put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. 24 Now behold, just as your life was precious in my sight this day, so let my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may He rescue me from all distress.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David; you will both accomplish much and certainly prevail.” So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.
a. 1 Samuel 26:16: Lit are sons of death.